The Checklist Manifesto & Process Automation

The Checklist Manifesto & Process Automation

What Do AP Automation and Brain Surgery Have in Common?

Metadescription: What do AP automation and brain surgery have in common? Both can benefit from well-documented procedures and processes to eliminate routine errors. Read our latest blog to learn how important it is to document your AP processes as part of your business process transformation journey, before you automate.

When it comes to accounts payable and vendor invoice processing, dealing with high volumes of documents, securing approvals and keying in huge volumes of data may seem challenging, but as the saying goes, “it isn’t brain surgery.”

That said, brain surgeons could learn a thing or two from AP clerks, and vice versa. That’s because, when it comes to any process, defining and documenting the steps involved is critical to success.

That’s the advice of Atul Gawande, author of the Checklist Manifesto, who also happens to be a surgeon and professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Gawande’s passion for checklists stemmed from his experiences as a doctor, where he says that checklists for simple procedures like hand washing or ensuring that a surgeon is operating on the right body part has been shown to reduce deaths by 47%.

The problem when it comes to doctor’s, is that checklists are sometimes regarded as demeaning, and there can be resistance to creating, maintaining and following them.

That same resistance can be seen when companies look to automate common processes like AP vendor invoice approvals or customer sales order processing. It isn’t always that the task of documenting and following procedures is viewed as demeaning so much as that process owners are often too eager to jump in and solve the problem before they spend the time to fully document and understand it, end to end.

When it comes to process automation and business transformation, studies have show that in spite of affordable, easy to implement solutions to automate workflows, including document handling, approval routing and data entry, 70% of these types of projects are subject to failure. The problem isn’t the technology—it’s the process itself and the willingness for stakeholders to define the process and then embrace the change.

To learn more about how checklists have solved problems ranging from airline safety to surgical procedures and more, check out the Hidden Brain Podcast from NPR


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